The Human Rights Protection Party

What is Good for Apia is also good for Savaii!
"O le mea e lelei i Apia, e lelei foi mo Savaii"

Jul 19

“Gee, I am not Bainimarama”, says PM


Commodore Frank Bainimarama has nothing on me.

This was Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi’s candid response this week to swipes by Samoa Observer editor Savea Sano Malifa that he was acting like the Fijian dictator regarding an initiative to set up a media council in Samoa.

“Bainimarama dictates with a pistol in his hand and I consult in a lavalava,” Tuilaepa said in his weekly radio interview on 2AP.

“Baini’s got nothing on me. Besides, I don’t have an army like him.

“In 2006, Savea as president of JAWS (Journalists Association of [Western] Samoa) conferred on me the grand good governance and media freedom award. This year, his newspaper the Samoa Observer conferred on me their person of the decade award. I am not aware that Savea is also planning to confer on Baini a similar recognition to reward him for successfully shutting up the media in Fiji.”

On top of regular press conferences, Tuilaepa also hosts weekly radio interviews with both of the country’s two biggest radio stations as well as with Samoan radio stations in New Zealand and Australia.

The Prime Minister said a media council – a normal practice elsewhere in the world including New Zealand and Australia – is to provide an avenue where the public can take their complaints about media publication and broadcasting to.

“It is a normal practice in these democratically-run countries thus we too must be a respected democratically-run state.

“But I am a big fan of the media. I’m always enjoying my little tit-for-tat with my old friend Savea. He randomly throws stones at me and I too unleash with my rocks on my radio interviews. With good intentions of course. Sometimes we chat up and he tells me my marbles are too big. I too rub my head and show him where his stones grazed me. There is never a dull moment.”

In the same humorous spirit, Tuilaepa also took a sideswipe at engaging 2AP interviewer Su’a Hessed Ieremia.

“I’ve been listening to you go on about Samoan honorifics and quoting Samoan proverbs about pigeon snaring and Samoan fishing rods. Now I know you have never snared pigeons nor held a traditional fishing rod. Better if you just turned up and said, Hi, how are you this afternoon? Then I will reply, malo Su’a, how did your roaming around town today go? That way the whole two or three people out there listening to our programme will have a good time. I am told more people prefer listening to Radio FM.”

Tuilaepa also imparted some useful marketing skills on the 2AP crew.

“You know, to get more people to listen to our progamme, you start off with, good morning Samoans in London, good afternoon Samoans in Alaska, good evening Samoans in Hong Kong. It doesn’t matter if your shortwave isn’t picked up from there.

“It will certainly be picked up by the owls and the myna birds that inhabit the airwaves and pass it on.


Established by the New Zealand administration after the Second World War, 2AP is the national broadcaster and its signal is picked up in neighboring Tokelau, American Samoa, the Southern Cooks and the southern islands of Tonga.

The PM’s weekly interview on 2AP is reportedly very popular with the station’s listeners.

Author: Tupuola Terry Tavita of Savali
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